Serena Williams showed tremendous fight and determination as she clawed her way back from a set down to defeat Ashleigh Barty in a three-set thriller at the French Open in Paris on Thursday.
The triple Roland-Garros champion conceded the first set on a lackluster serve before surging to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 second-round win.
Williams, who is competing at her first Grand Slam event after giving birth to her daughter last year, became frustrated and overcompensated on aggressive strokes as she surrendered another early break in the second set.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner roared “Come on!” after breaking back twice to move 3-1 ahead before forcing a deciding set with an ace.
The 36-year-old came to the fore as she displayed shadows of her previous champion form, and a brutal backhand winner sealed her place in round three.
Williams will face Julia Goerges next after the German conquered Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).
Earlier in the women’s event, Simona Halep made light work of Taylor Townsend in a 6-3, 6-1 win, and Maria Sharapova moved on to round three with a 7-5, 6-4 success against Donna Vekic to book a third round match-up with sixth seed Karolina Pliskova.
Spain’s Garbine Muguruza eased past France’s Fiona Ferro 6-3, 6-4, and Angelique Kerber advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 triumph against Ana Bogdan, and French seventh seed Caroline Garcia beat China’s Shuai Peng 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
In the men’s event, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov was knocked out of the French Open in the second round after a shock four-set loss to Germany’s Maximilian Marterer in Paris.
Shapovalov, the 24th seed who beat Rafael Nadal at the 2017 Rogers Cup in Montreal, struggled to recover from being two sets one down as he was beaten 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 6-4 by the world No. 70.
“I’m disappointed with the loss. Not every week is going to be a semi-final of a big tournament. It’s going to be ups and downs,” said Shapovalov.
Nadal was in dominant form as he dropped just four games to dismiss Argentine Guido Pella 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 and booked a match with France’s Richard Gasquet, who beat Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0.
The 19-year-old Shapovalov reached the semi-finals of the Madrid ATP event, and he refused to make excuses for his indifferent performance at Roland-Garros.
“In Madrid I was serving a bit better,” Shapovalov said.
“But apart from that, off the ground I felt pretty well today and physically I felt good. I’m happy with that.
“I feel like my game does suit this court. And I feel like in the future I could get really good on it. I’m pretty excited to come back next year.”
World No. 4 Marin Cilic cruised through the first two sets against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in 65 minutes, but after dropping the third set, he battled to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5 second-round success.
Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem advanced in four sets after besting Greek teen Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 and Italy’s Fabio Fognini progressed in straight sets against Sweden’s Elias Ymer 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
Lucas Pouille, the French 15th seed downed Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), but Kyle Edmund is through with 6-0, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 result over Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
Pouille’s fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau was beaten by fifth seed Juan Martin Del Potro 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
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